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Former vice wing commander assumes command of 5th Bomb Wing

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Col. Douglas Cox, former 36th Wing vice commander, assumed command of the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, N.D. Oct. 30.

Colonel Cox took over for Col. Joel Westa, who was relieved of command due to loss of confidence in his ability to command.

Col. Joel S. Westa was removed by Maj. Gen. Floyd L. Carpenter, commander of 8th Air Force. Colonel Westa assumed command in November 2007.

Colonel Westa was not relieved for any alleged misconduct or wrongdoing. The inability to foster a culture of excellence, a lack of focus on the strategic mission during his command and substandard performance during several nuclear surety inspections, including the newly activated 69th Bomb Squadron deemed "not ready" to perform its nuclear mission, contributed to the loss of confidence.

"Perfection is the standard," General Carpenter said. "We will continue to demand exacting focus, attention to detail, discipline and dedication to the highest principles and standards for all activities surrounding the nuclear enterprise."

Although multiple deficiencies in the adherence of stringent nuclear standards were identified during several inspections, the safety and security of nuclear operations at Minot were never compromised.

"While the shortcomings in recent inspections did not translate to an inability to accomplish the mission, they did show a departure from the standards of perfection that we demand in the nuclear enterprise," said Gen. William M. Fraser III, commander of Air Combat Command. "Our leaders must set and enforce the standards across all of our mission areas. The nation expects and deserves nothing less."

Col. Todd Fingal, 36th Operations Group commander, will replace Colonel Cox as vice commander.

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